Friend Files is a feature I’ve added to Away With Words, this being the seventeenth installment. Past installments appear under the “Friend Files” tag on my blog. I will be interviewing a friend of mine and showcasing why they are a friend to me and what I like about them, and also a mini-interview (five questions) that detail what they think of me. It’s a way to acknowledge my friends out there and what they’re up to and also introduce them to my larger group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be interested in reading.
Today, I will be talking about Ariana Whalen. Before I get into what I think of her, here is my mini-interview with Ariana (exchanged over Facebook) where she jotted down just a few thoughts:
Ariana Whalen – Barista, Nature Lover, Student Of Yoga
ARIANA WHALEN’S FRIEND FILES INTERVIEW
ME: Give me some details about your life.
ARIANA WHALEN: Hmm. Well, I work at Starbucks and I like to think I make the world slightly less homicidal one cup at a time. I’m sort of a workaholic – I am taking fifteen credits this upcoming semester, and I made sure I could still work 40 hours each week. I love to explore the outdoors. I wish I could get paid to do that, actually – not like hardcore shit – but just leisure hiking, trying out new food, and finding new places. That’s not really a job, though. So, I continue to work at the ‘bucks while I work my way through school. I have a larger family, and I love each and every one of them, but they are all crazy. My family was once compared to a Wes Anderson film.
ME: How exactly did we meet?
ARIANA WHALEN: Definitely through the ‘bucks (Starbucks) in Saco! Maine Starbucks are a complete 180 from the rest of the country. They are a breed of their own. I remember thinking, “Holy shit, this place is crazy.” It was summer and all of the Canadians were flooding the Old Orchard area, flocking to Starbucks like the beacon of energy that it can be. I remember you being ridiculously calm about us being super understaffed, and me thinking that you had just shut down or something – that you would eventually come to your senses and realize that our situation was insane. I would realize later, and have come to appreciate, that you literally do not care about the crazy aspects of our job. Because it is just coffee and people are going to be happy or mean regardless of what you do. That’s their choice. We just do the best we can. I hope I’ve been able to steal some of that.
ME: What is one good memory you have involving me?
ARIANA WHALEN: Hmm. Well, there are a couple that come to mind, but I think my favorite is Wine Bar Night. Admittedly, I don’t remember all of Wine Bar Night. #TequilaProblems. However, I do remember drinking a bunch of tequila with our coworkers. Then, meeting you at Muse, and all of us just being absolutely ridiculous, yelling all the way across the room, “Joeeee!” And you were relatively nonplussed over our states while the entire rest of the room was just oozing judgement. I remember eating pizza afterwards with you and Alli (a mutual friend and former co-worker) and thinking how I couldn’t have ended up in a better situation. Oh! And I remember falling right on my back and having my painting smash into my face and someone helped me up. Maybe it was you. I’m not sure. I do remember my spine felt suffused with the cold sidewalk. That’s probably one of my favorite sort of memories. Sort of because my memory of it is a little shoddy.
ME: Why exactly are we still friends?
ARIANA WHALEN: Well, you can’t get rid of me until you quit. And even then, I’d probably pester you from time to time. I enjoy smart, talented humans and try and keep them around. You obviously fall in that category and are on my twelve year old level of “that’s what she said” jokes. Alicia (mutual friend and co-worker) and I will occasionally say something, say, “That’s what she said” and then be really bummed out that you weren’t there for it.
So, I would say reasons are a) you can’t get rid of me because of work b) I think you’re a groovy human, c) I have a terribly mean sense of humor and you tolerate it well. Hahah. Also, I blame my sense of humor on my family. This is all their fault.
ME: Anything you want me to plug?
ARIANA WHALEN: Well, I am very selfish about my social media habits.
I have an INSTAGRAM
account that is open to followers, but I mostly post so I can be reminded of the places I’ve been. I have a TUMBLR
, but I don’t ever post anything but my very personal thoughts/ experiences, and my editing on it is nonexistent.
Ariana is, indeed, correct about where and how we first met. It was when she transferred to my store in Saco from California. When she first arrived at the store, everyone was curious about her. She was attractive, and so the guys had been discussing her off and on. When I finally was able to talk to her on a shift, she was very open, very nice, and very funny. One day we were having a store meeting after I’d gotten to know her a bit better and she told me that she was going to bike to the meeting. It ended up raining, and when she arrived at the store she was soaked from head to toe. At the time, I thought it was great (and still do) that she not only still biked to work in the storm but also that she loved it. Some people would have been frustrated that they’d chanced biking out in the weather and ended up in a downpour, but Ariana tends to roll with the punches when she can, which sets her apart from a lot of other people. But that doesn’t mean that Ariana isn’t passionate about things and causes she stands for. Many times, she and I have had long discussions about politics or hot-button issues, and Ariana definitely stands her ground, which I respect. At the end of the day, though, even if she still disagrees with you – she doesn’t discount you as a fellow human.
When Ariana transferred to a different store – I thought I’d never end up working with her again. It was a bummer, for sure, but that’s how retail goes and so it wasn’t unexpected. However, things ended up working out so that I needed to transfer from my old store in Saco and I ended up at the store Ariana was working in, and now we currently work together once more (which was really nice when I first started because I at least knew someone) which has been really fun. When I was working with her at my old store, I was a shift manager and she was just a regular barista. Now, the roles are reversed and she is a shift manager while I’m a regular barista. It’s been cool to explore the different dynamic and to see how she leads others, including me, on her shifts.
One of my own favorite memories of Ariana was, like her own, when we went to the Muse Paintbar in Portland, Maine with a bunch of our co-workers. It was the first real time I’d ever hung out with her in a setting outside of work, and it was nice to see her with her guard down a little bit. We laughed, she painted like a crazy-woman, and even though she was a little tipsy toward the end, it only made the evening that much more fun. However, there are many other memories I have of Ariana involving work, where we spent entire shifts joking around or even outside of work when we’ve met for drinks or food and I’ve gotten to know more about her as a person and have discovered what a unique and interesting lady she is.
I, for one, am glad that Ariana came to work at my store in Saco and I was able to get to know her there, and now at our new store in Portland. She is definitely a human worth knowing. And now, without further ado, I will showcase some images I think help show Ariana’s character as well as some images relevant to our friendship.
Ariana and me working on Halloween at our old store in Saco, Maine.
Another of Ariana and me at our old store on Halloween Day.
Ariana took time out of her study to send me a photo of something she was telling me about.
This picture pretty much sums up Ariana in one image.
An image I doctored after a rough night at work to say that my co-workers were all superheroes. Ariana is in the middle, I’m on the left.
Ariana, in her natural state.
When I went with Ariana (far left) to the Muse Paintbar in Portland, Maine with a bunch of other co-workers.
Ariana and her family.